Biases of a different kind. A way Forward?

Applegate, Kimberly E keapple at UKY.EDU
Tue Feb 26 11:08:53 UTC 2019

Thank you for your insight and courage. It reminds me of my favorite saying 'The system is designed perfectly to get the result it gets.'

Building more transparency and accountability would help.


From: Robert Bell <0000000296e45ec4-dmarc-request at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG>
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 12:14 AM
Subject: [IMPROVEDX] Biases of a different kind. A way Forward?

Dear all,

I have been on line with this and one other organization dedicated to errors in medicine.

I could be wrong but there seems to be no major advances in terms of the estimated rising numbers of patients still experiencing error.

There are the small things all over that one would guess would save a few lives, and occasionally a big study that saves many lives globally, e.g. Dr. Pronovost’s catheter study. But not too many.

Why is this?

I would argue that it is mainly due to biases, yes biases, but not the ones we often talk about.

We all have ideological biases that in most come from the persons walk through life and upbringing.

But then there are the loyalty biases that often come from where one's money/salary comes from, and maybe from an organization of which one is a member.

One notices the absence of comment on this list from time to time about certain topics.

These biases, I believe, inhibit many from speaking up and suggesting new creative ideas that could be breakthroughs in medicine if adopted.

I do not have a magic wand on how to break through all the barriers, but have noticed a few things.

  *   It seems that retired persons are more free to speak out than others.
  *   Women, seem to speak out more often.
  *   And Think Tanks which employ their own experts frequently speak out.
  *   And finally we must not forget imaginative leadership - some people have immense abilities to make a difference by fostering collaboration, getting things done, and saving lives.

So with all these, how to break through the obstacles, and in error terms, have the equivalent of putting a women or a man on the moon, or having a cure for HIV/AIDS in 10 years, that in turn leads to dramatic reductions in deaths and injuries due to error!

Would welcome thoughts.

Rob Bell, M.D.


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